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Tastemakers: Greek Classicist: Terra Medi olive products

Greeks feel strongly about olive oil; after all, they've been making it for more than 5,000 years. Apostolos Paralikas, who grew up working in his family's olive groves in the Peloponnesus, Greece's southern peninsula, feels even more strongly than most. So he decided to bring those oils to America, where Greek varieties have considerably less cachet than Italian or French ones. Two years ago, Paralikas and a couple of friends set up an outpost in Astoria, Queens, from which they launched Terra Medi, a line of their favorite Greek products. The company now imports two superb extra-virgin oils—an organic kind and another made with fruit from the Paralikas groves—as well as three intensely fruity vinegars and, in the coming months, marinated olives and olive spreads. Terra Medi takes a modern approach to the ancient olive-oil craft. The oils are mild and buttery, with a light, peppery bite; the acidity levels are less than 0.5 percent, about half the amount in typical Italian extra-virgins. Given the quality of the oil, the prices are surprisingly modest: just $12 for a 17-ounce bottle and $7 for the same size bottle of vinegar. The label (three stylized olives against a spare, monochromatic background) is also impressive (718-932-9293 or www.terramedi.com).

—Beth Collins

Published December 2003
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